Katie Jean Shinkle


Pick of lemonhearts of a tree,

a vine shaped like the same so

many hearts with ventricles of bloom-black,

black like so many parts


Here can we open, open yes

the sternum and / slice /

inside.      Once    and   twice

through meat, in the insides of our bodies

as we have imagined


The sternum opens to a land of plush greenery,

all of this flora and fauna of the internal

beneath ribs an ocean floor of forest

this depth and warmth              a night within a night

this starry end to life            all of these nights

this tandem, this simultaneity


Here in this sternum is magic—


The sea-lake sets our bones
            in new configurations. We pass each other afloat,
past past
            the garden of sunflowers and thistle, a bell inside a lighthouse, a bell
inside a ring a ting ting a ring a ting ting
            We are invited you are invited

in. Yes, Baby-Doll, I’m coming.

But not in the way you think, not
            in this way, the way you think
all the time. Listen, close to the bone,

each creak an animal underwater, each break
            to our nearest rebirth.

If this is home for you, I don’t know where you came from
            to begin with. This sable water.
And if this is home for you, why has your body revolted?

Why has your body peppered movement a catastrophe?
            Each movement steeped in—

I am with you on this journey
            but not the next. The thrill of these silver spoons,
still force-fed, still thirsty.


At the very least, I am not making this up.

This trine across Venus, this Mars encroaching,

in shape, in absentia. My ultimate light,

burning me, up to my neck, burn the witch.


My Mars and your Mars are not the same.

My Venus, there is none. In the movies

children look outside the window

to see the solar system, touch planets.

But, this is not a movie set. Here, the planets


are still light-years away. O starry, o gay.

The sky’s smile— teeth rotted at the gums

like people you once knew. The roof

is blown off the foundation revealing

our hospital beds side-by-side.


The sextile of Jupiter, it is spring, feel

the sexy only spring can bring. Your paisley

bedspread, mine floral. When we are old,

which is now, we will hold hands through

the metal bars, though the curtain

that separates.



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Katie Jean Shinkle is Assistant Poetry Editor for DIAGRAM. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Poetry Journal, NANO Fiction, Corium Magazine and dislocate, among others.




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